Too Loud a Solitude

Too Loud a Solitude



The Pequod Review:

Bohumil Hrabal's Too Loud a Solitude is an ode to the written word, as it recounts an old man (Hanta) who works in a paper recycling factory and attempts to save books from destruction. Hanta lives a solitary life, but not a lonely one — and his active inner thoughts recount the wide-ranging education he has received from these rescued works:

Rare books perish in my press, under my hands, yet I am unable to stop their flow. I am nothing but a refined butcher... But just as a beautiful fish will occasionally sparkle in the water of a polluted river that runs through a stretch of factories, so in the flow of old paper the spine of a rare book will occasionally shine forth, and if for a moment I turn away, dazzled, I always turn back in time to rescue it, and after wiping it off on my apron, opening it wide, and breathing in its print, I glue my eyes to the text and read the first sentence like a Homeric prophecy.

The story also has some depth as it considers the transmission (and impermanence) of knowledge. Recommended.